Former Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount has signed a 1 year, $1.25 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. The 30-year old’s deal is worth up to $2.8 million dollars if he meets all his incentives. It was only a matter of time before the bruising back found a new team. Firstly, because there were plenty of teams still in need of a big back following the NFL Draft, and secondly, because the Patriots put Blount on a clock. The May 9th tender he was offered by the Patriots gave Blount until July 22nd to sign with a new team. Failing to do so would mean the evil Bill Belichick would own his soul for all eternity per the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement.
Blount didn’t waste any time finding a new team so we won’t waste any more time on this intro.
Fantasy Reaction: Patriots Backfield
A classic case of addition by subtraction, the “loss” of Blount in free agency opens the door for Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead to compete for Blount’s lofty TD shares. Blount had 24 scores over the last two years with 18 of them coming in 2016. The added clarity to the RB situation in New England comes as a relief to all the fantasy owners who have bought into the hype of various Patriots RBs over the last 8 months. Late 2016, the buzz was about Dion Lewis coming back strong in the playoffs, then it was James White’s Super Bowl heroics. Next came the signings of Rex Burkhead, followed by Mike Gillislee. So, this is the best news Patriot RBs have had in quite some time. Unfortunately, Belichick is still at the helm and his “scheme-of-the-week” style offense is likely to frustrate owners again in 2017.
Fantasy Reaction: Eagles Backfield
It feels like Ryan Mathews has gotten a raw deal in Philadelphia. Initially, he was quickly followed to the Eagles by DeMarco Murray, who supplanted him before he could get started, then he spent much of 2016 dealing with nagging injuries, and now this. If there was one thing certain about Mathews in Philadelphia it was that he was the short yardage “big back”. Now that role is gone thanks to Blount’s presence and the signing could spell the end of Mathews tenure in Philadelphia altogether. Similarly, UDFA Corey Clement now finds himself facing a steeper climb to fantasy relevance behind Blount on the depth chart. If you were counting on Wendell Smallwood or Darren Sproles, their roles are likely unchanged as the smallish backs should hold on to their change of pace and passing down roles.
Fantasy Reaction: LeGarrette Blount
It would appear as though Blount will take a step down after leaving the Patriots’ high-powered offense. But the drop-off might not be as steep as it may seem. Obviously, I’m not projecting him to land in the end zone 18 times again, but double-digit TDs is well within the realm of possibility. His new squad, the Eagles, ran the 4th most offensive plays in Carson Wentz’s first year at the helm. They were also top 10 in rushing attempts. Even more encouraging was that Ryan Mathews was 5th in the league in rushing attempts inside the opponent’s 5-yard line (16 carries). These are high-value touches, the kind that a 250 lb. back like Blount will feast on.
Look for Blount’s 2017 campaign to feel very much like his 2016 campaign. As the power back in a productive offense, Blount’s owners will be very happy when he’s scoring TDs and disappointed when he doesn’t. He isn’t likely to do enough in the yardage and receiving departments to help boost non-scoring stat lines.